late 13c., yrichon "hedgehog," from O.N.Fr. *irechon (cf. Picard irechon, Walloon ireson, Hainaut hirchon), from O.Fr. herichun "hedgehog" (Fr. hérisson), formed with dim. suffix -on from V.L. *hericionem, from L. ericius "hedgehog," from PIE base *gher- "to bristle" (cf. Gk. kheros "hedgehog;" see horror). Still used for "hedgehog" in non-standard speech in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Shropshire. Applied throughout 16c. to people whose appearance or behavior suggested hedgehogs, from hunchbacks (1520s) to goblins (1580s) to bad girls (c.1530); meaning "poorly or raggedly clothed youngster" emerged 1550s, but was not in frequent use until after c.1780. Sea urchin is recorded from 1591 (a 19c. Newfoundland name for them was whore's eggs).
Although experiments that clip spines off urchins would seem to make sense if one wanted to directly test how they contributed to vision, "we can't just remove spines — if we do, they get very sick and die, and don't behave naturally at all," Johnsen explained.
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